Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Nina Geld (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an up-and-coming comedian in New York City. She’s funny, smart and has worked hard to build a career for herself in the male-dominated world of stand-up. But when it comes to romantic relationships, Nina’s life is a mess. Random guys in bars, abusive married men (Chace Crawford), and an inability to stand up for herself finally convince Nina it’s time for a change. She packs up and moves to Los Angeles, for a once in a lifetime opportunity to audition for Comedy Prime — the end all, be all of late night comedy. After killing it in Los Angeles, she meets chill contractor Rafe Hines (Common), who tempts the brash New Yorker into considering commitment. Sublimating her own desire to self-destruct, Nina has to answer the question, once and for all, of whether women can indeed have it all. WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY Eva Vives STARRING Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, and Beau Bridges.
Eva Vives had a star studded cast to direct in All About Nina. This talented Director and writer was born in Spain. She made the move to New York at a young age to pursue her filmmaking aspirations. After creating some great short films she has made the jump to feature films with her debut – All About Nina. With a star studded cast that includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Fargo), Common (Suicide Squad, Hell on Wheels) and Chace Crawford (The Covenant, Gossip Girl); All About Nina had its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious Best Narrative Feature award. All About Nina is a dark comedy that…well, I’ll let Eva tell you in her owns words as she talks about the movie, starting out and working with this great cast.
All About Nina' Premiere Tribeca Film
Interview by Blaine Schlechter with Eve Vives
Congratulations on your first feature film, All About Nina Eve.
Thank you. It doesn’t get old to hear that.
I bet it doesn’t. You had the privilege of having it premier at the Tribeca Film Festival not that long ago, how has your life been since the Festival?
Pretty good very busy. It’s funny, sometimes it feels like it’s taking so long to get the film out there. I know in reality it’s relatively a short time, but I’ve lived with the movie for so long that i'm so happy it;s now out for fans to see. I’ve been writing a lot and working on other projects and then finishing this up.
The Tribeca Film Festival, that’s a well-respected festival. What did it mean to you to have your movie premiere there?
It means a lot because I moved to New York when I was 18 and I lived there for 16 years and it really was my home in more ways than one because in a way I was running away from my own home, where I grew up. So I think New York does that for a lot of people, it’s just huge and I know a lot of people find it scary but I found it very welcoming as well and exciting and just full of interesting people and cultures and for me it was a wonderful experience. And then I actually, you know we were shooting a different film that I wrote called Raising Victor Vargas when 9/11 happened and then I remembered that very shortly after they basically started the Tribeca Film Festival. I think also as a way to try to rehabilitate downtown and especially that area which was obviously so affected, so it’s a very emotional connection to it, in that way especially. I think it’s a great film festival anyway but when I went back to show it there I just kept thinking of that first year when that happened, you know.
Writer Director Eve Vives
I could imagine. You mentioned that the movie was a few years in the making and from my understanding it’s a very personal project for you, how did All About Nina come about?
Well, it started because in a way it’s been many, many years in the coming in the sense that my personal side of the story obviously it’s something that I lived through and I’ve always known that I wanted to tell the story one way or the other. And in a way there’s different other movies that I could write about the similar experience but I was more interested in talking about the recovery process, like what happens once you have survived something like this and then how do you deal with your day to day, especially in relationships because it can be so scary for survivors to trust. Once we kicked it around a lot and knowing what I knew about myself and basically ended up being able to combine that story with a love of mine, which is comedy, something that has always kept me alive as well and that I relied on a lot through my, sort of, hard times and when I moved to New York at 18 I also immediately got into the comedy scene. Not as a comedian, I never had the balls to do that (laughs), but I loved it. I knew a lot of comedians and I was in and out of that scene for better or for worse, which is a very male dominated scene. I mean, it still is, but at least it’s starting to change a little bit. So, it was very easy for me to sort of tap back into that and think, ‘oh, what if I had been a comedian what would have I dealt with’ and some of the stuff Nina deals with in those clubs are things that happen everywhere, that is certainly my experience as well and I wasn’t a comedian. Anyway, I think I went round and round in terms of how long it took me to write it but once I sat down, and this is fairly common for me, that once I sit down to write something I know what the story is at least and then I just sort of let the scenes take me where they need to.
You had quite a phenomenal cast of actors come on board - Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common and Chace Crawfrord – how did it feel when they all agreed to be a part of your movie?
Pretty incredible and actually I think that part in a way is still the most surreal. We had the premier in LA yesterday and just still can’t believe that they said yes and that I worked with them and not only that but that they gave me so much. Obviously this is my first, I mean I’ve directed shorts before but it's obviously a different experience with a feature, especially with somebody like Mary because she’s in every scene and it's sort of a deep dive into psychology and emotion and all that but actually with the two of them I loved how vulnerable and kind of goofy Common played this character and I don’t think that is an easy thing for him to do necessarily and I thought it was very brave, so to me I felt more than ever like I was. I felt very responsible for them that they were trusting me with so much and I really felt that dynamic, you know. It's one thing to talk about but it’s different when you experience it obviously.
I agree with your comment on Common, I had the chance to meet him when he was here filming in Alberta one of his TV series and when I had the chance to watch All About Nina I was pleasantly surprised at how talented he was when he added that side to it.
I know right, he should be in more movies, right.
I agree. Speaking of Alberta, obviously Common filmed in Alberta; Mary Elizabeth was here filming Fargo not that long ago; Chace Crawford he was filming in BC. So…I kind of think maybe it’s destiny that your next movie comes to Western Canada. We’d love to have you.
(Laughs) Yeah, maybe I can just get all them to go back there and we can do something there.
Like kind of a reunion, I think it might be kind of fun!
I’ve never been sadly but I have a lot of Canadian friends so it’s a good place in my heart.
We would love you have you here anytime you want. So, it’s your first feature film, you walk onto set on your first day…what’s going through your mind?
I kept thinking ‘please don’t tell me that it’s going away and that it’s not going to happen.’ Honestly, you work so hard and you have to push so much for it to happen and then I remember the first day I did a little speech to the crew and stuff and I just kept thinking ‘oh my God please let this be true and this is happening.’ Our first day was actually all the scenes with mom, Camryn Manheim, and Mary and Mindy Sterling who played Amy, the nosy neighbor, so it was like relatively easing into it. Those scenes were longer, there was a couple that we had to cut which is a shame because I loved them, it’s just that once you get into editing you start realizing that you have to remain in a certain point of view. But I loved working with Cameryn and Mindy Sterling too, they are hilarious and I didn’t know when I cast them that they knew each other already. They are so funny together, I actually really wanted to make a movie with just the two of them because, I mean, I actually peed my pants twice in the making of this movie, which I probably shouldn’t admit to (laughs).
You not only directed but you wrote the movie as well, was it easier or harder to direct your own words?
Oh I find it much easier because I’m not pressured about it, which I know is not true for a lot of directors. I get the feeling that it’s harder to let things change if you are not the writer or vice versa, if you’re the writer and somebody else is directing and then you really want them to take your words but, to me as long as the essence is there and obviously certain lines and things have to be said in order for the story to move forward. So for certain things I’ll say ‘Hey you forgot to say this and you have to say it or otherwise we won’t know, blah, blah, blah’ but other than that I always gave them a lot of freedom and I personally think that in general things always get better when you allow actors to do it their own way, but that’s just my vibe. I’m always pleasantly surprised by that, I think some of the best, well not some of the best, but there’s a lot of things I love about the movie that were their suggestions. Like when Mary slaps Jay Mohr in that second scene, Jay suggested that. The scene was always what it was but then he said ‘what if she slaps me and I thought “alright, let’s give it a try” and then she did and she thought his face was so funny that she started to laugh, like she couldn’t stop laughing, which I thought was great. It kind of made sense for where she was at, it’s just another way of showing emotionally what a weird place she’s in. So again, for the most part I’m always down to try it.
Well it definitely works, especially at that moment with what she was going through, I enjoyed that scene too. I know, it’s a tough one to come out of; I’m like ok…now what…now where do we go?
You mentioned you moved to New York at the age of 18 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, did you always know you wanted to be a director?
I mean, not always, always, but fairly early on. It’s funny, I grew up watching, I didn’t have a TV, so my mom and I used to go to, I guess it’s called Filmoteca. I’m sure Canada has something like this. I realized, some great programs there and I could just show up and watch whatever was going on but it was mostly done by directors actually, so that was kind of my film school prior to it and for a long time I thought I wanted to be an actor because I thought that they wrote their own words. When I was going to movies I was like ‘wow, these guys are good’ but then I started reading about it and realized oh, there’s a script and somebody writes them and a director and once I became interested in that I did think, to me, it’s not to say I would never direct a movie that I hadn’t written but to me it’s a part of film making and storytelling together. It makes sense for me to tackle it together, I just never got the opportunity to direct until now sadly.
So what’s next for you then, what can we expect to see from you coming up?
Well, I have a revenge film that I’m almost done with that I think is also going to be very timely in terms of what’s going on in the country right now. I’m very excited about that, it’s very different stylistically which I also love. As well I have a couple of other things that I’m talking about but probably not ready to discuss yet, but I hope I keep writing and directing, that’s what I want to do.
After this one, I’m excited to see what the future holds for you. All About Nina opens up in select theatres in Canada on Oct 12. For those who might not be familiar with the movie, tell them what they can expect when they go see it.
I think it’s a pretty raw, raunchy and truthful movie about a female stand-up comedian who is trying to sort her past.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing it and I think it’s a really great movie and I encourage anyone to go out there. It really had me on a roller-coaster ride watching it. Congratulations again on a great feature film debut.
I’m so glad that you liked it so much, thank you for telling me that and thank you for spending the time talking to me.
Thank you so much for chatting with me too and I look forward to seeing what comes from your creative genius mind next.
(Laughs) Thank you…I can’t wait.
IN SELECT THEATERS SEPTEMBER 28
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